If you don't want to repeat a mistake, it's important to analyze it and figure out where you got off track. But actually, I don't want to think about my year from Hell. I just want to move forward. There comes a point when analysis is just painful. We as a family suffered a tremendous loss - my beloved father. I want to take a minute and write about the lessons I learned from him, not how I got off track through his long illness.
My dad was 86 when he passed away from congestive heart failure. He had suffered from heart problems for my entire adult life but he kept on moving until the end. The ice storm that struck the South last year left my family without power for 3 weeks, and that is when his health began failing rapidly. He spent the last 4 months of his life in nursing homes and hospitals.
Enough about his death - let's talk about his life. My dad retired in his mid 60s due to some back problems. He had been an optometrist and standing for long periods of time was too hard on him. He didn't stop though. He began taking classes at a local university and at the age of 66 received a doctorate in theology and became an ordained minister. Dad never liked extremes of weather, and 6 days a week, until about 5 months before his death, he went to Walmart early in the morning and walked a mile. He didn't have a rapid pace as he got older but he KEPT MOVING. His doctors were constantly amazed at the way Dad would go and walk, day after day, considering his heart problems and the arthritis that had settled in his spine.
He enjoyed reading, time spent with "all his girls" (my mom, me and my daughters), and looking out the window at the backyard he had turned into a bird sanctuary with feeders and birdbaths in clear view from the window. He kept his weight within 5 pounds of what he weighed in his 30s for his entire life, until illness made him dwindle away. Nutritionally, he didn't eat that well, although he did start every day with a bowlful of a fiber-filled bran cereal. Aside from that he was a fussy meat and potatoes kind of guy. He was the most loving and optimistic person I have ever known, and was and remains a constant inspiration to me.
The lessons I learned from Dad:
1.) Keep moving, no matter what
2.) Enjoy nature
3.) Keep learning
4.) Maintain a steady weight
5.) Be positive
6.) Let faith in God carry you through the rough spots
Those were the keys to his long life, which was a remarkably excellent one. I hope that when I am 86 I can look back and say I have accomplished as much as my dad.
We love you, Daddy, and think of you every day. I know you are watching me now, and you are smiling as you watch me pursue my dreams and re-prioritze my life.
No one has had a better teacher than I have. I want to honor my dad by incorporating his lessons into my life. He would be ticked at me for having succumbed to depression and letting myself get so overweight and out of shape. So now I know he will be happy to know that I've pulled it together and will continue to do so in his memory.